Hunting new deals, Eli Lilly buddies up on diabetes R&D with $55M pact

David Ricks

New Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks has another deal to report.

Just a few months after completing a pact to acquire CoLucid’s migraine drug in a $960 million buyout, the pharma giant has fronted $55 million to launch a new collaboration with the Swiss biotech KeyBioscience on a class of dual amylin-calcitonin receptor agonist drugs aimed at amping up insulin sensitivity and spurring weight loss for diabetics.

The deal covers a slate of molecules, including the Phase II drug KBP-042.

Lilly, a big player in diabetes, also promised a lineup of milestones for the work, but the pharma giant isn’t offering any details.

KeyBioscience is a subsidiary of Nordic Bioscience. And just a few months ago the sub reported that it had struck a deal to use technology from Enteris BioPharma to make oral formulations of its metabolic peptides.

This new deal on Lilly’s part comes after Ricks made clear that the pharma giant would start to up the ante on external partnerships and acquisitions. Under longtime CEO John Lechleiter, Lilly was known for limiting itself to a handful of deals with some well-known players in the business.

“We are extremely excited about the promise of this new mechanism, which could potentially improve insulin sensitivity, reduce weight and improve blood glucose control,” said Morten Karsdal, chairman of the board, KeyBioscience AG, in a statement. “The dual activation of the calcitonin and amylin receptors is exciting research in the diabetes space. We look forward to partnering with Lilly to advance this important work.”

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